Photo Elite Decries Smartphone Photography

Lyndsey Hewitt
Staff Reporter

I used to think that serious photographers embrace every opportunity to take a picture, regardless of their on-hand equipment. But lately, I’m not so sure, considering some of the backlash coming from photographers about the mainstream use of Instagram, a photo-taking and editing app for smartphones that allows users to instantly share their photos with the world.

Now all smartphones come equipped with some pretty snazzy cameras, some of them capable of taking 8-megapixel images. For the iPhone you can even buy several accessories for your camera including filters and other lens attachments. It’s quite amazing, really. Now “everyone” is a photographer, and some people hate that.

Despite all of these amazing technological advancements, there are still many people who simply choose to ignore them, more or less because they feel they are above using a camera on a cellular phone.

Well, newsflash, Instagram photos have now been featured on the covers of the New York Times and other major publications. But that isn’t even my point.

My point is, if you are a photographer, why not embrace every single opportunity to exercise your eye? Sure, big fancy DSLRs are the best but let’s face it, they’re not the least bit convenient. I am a photographer and I hate carrying my camera around. I’m also a woman so I’m constantly carrying a million other things on top of that.

So I have embraced Instagram and taking photos with my cellphone. And I have to admit, it has helped me become a better photographer.

Here’s how:

I’m less afraid to pull out my cell phone and snap random photos at any given place or time. Pulling out a gigantic DSLR isn’t always inconspicuous, so there are a lot of missed opportunities, especially for street photography. I’m not speaking on behalf of everyone obviously, because I’m sure there are well-established photojournalists and photographers who are simply not afraid whatsoever to whip out their monstrous camera anywhere, at any time. But I think for the vast majority, we would just rather not, lest we look like some kind of weirdo for taking photos of random people on the street.

But still – time and time again – I hear people, incredibly creative people, who make fun of Instagram and taking pictures with cell phones in general.

Why? Is it not just another medium for self-expression? Art is ever-changing, and if you’re not embracing change, you are falling behind and jeopardizing yourself creatively and in the job market. Employers now look for people with social media expertise. If you don’t know how to use Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Pintrest, there are many great jobs you may not be qualified for.

But back to Instagram. What is wrong with posting photos to people that like to see your work? I follow not only fellow classmates, but a large amount of famous photographers, magazines, newspapers, and other creative individuals. Seeing their work posted on Instagram on a daily basis keeps me not only informed, but is always improving my eye for taking great photos.

I’m not the only who feels this way. Andre J. Herman, a professor at the Academy of Art, School of Photography, said, “Forget iphoneography, phoneography, or any other derivative. How about just ‘photography’? A camera is still a camera no matter what form.”

As someone who considers themselves a photographer, I have really embraced this, and it has done nothing but help me exponentially.

I’m not saying give up using your preferred technology, but be open-minded about newer ways of taking photos. Stop hating and start embracing. I adore my DSLR. But I also love my Droid.


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